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A New Jersey judge dismissed domestic violence charges against former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, following his completion of a pretrial intervention program.
The charges stemmed from a brutal attack on his wife Janay in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February 2014. Graphic video of the incident surfaced last September.
Pretrial intervention programs, also known as diversion or deferred adjudication, are fairly common for low-level offenses. Normally, the person charged must complete some combination of fines, community service, or treatment program in exchange for having criminal charges dropped.
In this case, Rice only had to pay $125 in fines and receive anger management counseling, even though he was charged with third-degree aggravated assault. As The Associated Press pointed out, the diversion program is normally reserved for non-violent offenders and only "70 of the more than 15,000 domestic violence assault cases adjudicated from 2010 to 2013 in New Jersey's Superior Court were admitted into the pretrial intervention program."
Atlantic County prosecutor James P. McClain has defended the use of pretrial intervention for Rice, and a spokesperson for his office told ESPN: "Mr. Rice received the same treatment in the court system that any first-time offender in similar circumstances has received."
Unfortunately, domestic violence cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute, especially without cooperation from the victim. Janay, who was engaged to Rice at the time of the incident and married him after he was indicted, has consistently backed her husband.
Rice's NFL career remains in limbo. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell originally suspended Rice 2 games for the incident, but made the suspension indefinite after video of Rice punching Janay in the face came out.
The second suspension was later overturned, and Rice is currently not facing any further discipline from the league. Even so, he remains an unsigned free agent after rushing for just 660 yards and 4 touchdowns in an injury-plagued 2013 season.